Top Stories of 2012 – No. 10: Six arrested on federal drug charges

Published 5:05pm Monday, December 24, 2012

Each year, the Washington Daily News asks readers to nominate the top stories of the year. This year, the Washington Daily News Editorial Board compiled a list of 30 significant stories of 2012 and asked readers to choose the top 10 stories on the list.  Readers voted this story as the No. 10 story of 2012.
See Thursday’s Daily News for numbers seven and eight on the list.
(Original story published April 20, 2012.)
Six Beaufort County residents were arrested Thursday, April 19, on federal charges stemming from an investigation of illegal appropriation and sales of prescription drugs, the N.C. Department of Justice confirmed.
Three sisters, Amanda Champion Bunch, a nurse practitioner; Lori Champion Melton, pharmacy manager of Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy; and Anna Champion Moore, a former nurse anesthetist, were arrested by agents from State Bureau of Investigation’s Diversion and Environmental Crimes unit and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Kevin Dail Owens, a sergeant with the N.C. State Highway Patrol; Justin Mixon, formerly employed by the Washington Police Department; and Arron Jones, a registered nurse, also were arrested.
All six were charged with obtaining controlled-substance prescription drugs fraudulently. Bunch was also charged with writing prescriptions outside the scope of professional practice — prescriptions written largely to friends and family, which she had previously acknowledged to state investigators.
A report by the N.C. Board of Nursing cited the ongoing SBI investigation that revealed Bunch had inappropriately written prescriptions for painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, and a variety of prescription medications to treat insomnia, dating back to 2007. A hearing before the same board resulted in an official reprimand from the agency and the requirement that Bunch complete a board-approved ethical/legal decision-making course, which she did in February.  Bunch has continued to work in the medical industry.  She was remanded to custody overnight in May after U.S. Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel found Bunch guilty of violating the conditions of her pretrial release, when she attempted to make contact with the wife of a co-defendant. Bunch has continued to work in the medical industry.
Moore was a Beaufort Regional Health System employee from July 2001 until October 2010; Jones, from May 2005 until November 2010; and Bunch, from April 2006 until October 2008, but they were at no time employed by Vidant Health.
In October 2010, Moore submitted a letter to the N.C. Board of Nursing, voluntarily surrendering her license to practice nursing in the state.
Mixon, charged with fraudulent appropriation of painkillers, resigned from his position with Washington Police Department in November 2010. A police spokesman said Mixon had been a patrol officer with the department.
Owens was placed on administrative duty with the Highway Patrol in December 2010, according to officials. Charges against Owens allege he obtained Zolpidem tartrate, known as Ambien, and Alprozolam, known as Xanax, through illegal means.
The case is related to an earlier investigation by the SBI and the sheriff’s office, the outcome of which was Heather Tetterton’s guilty plea in October, 2010, to five felony charges based on possession and intent to sell hydrocodone, along with three counts of felony embezzlement of a controlled substance. Tetterton also worked at Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy as a pharmacist.
Their court date is set for Jan. 28.

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